Thousands of Nottingham people stood shoulder to shoulder in Old Market Square on Thursday in an emotional tribute to victims of the attacks on Tuesday morning.
Civic dignitaries and local figures addressed a large crowd as the city remembered Barnaby Webber, Grace O’Malley-Kumar and Ian Coates, as well as those injured or affected, while reiterating the message that Nottingham is a place of love, tolerance and hope.
The Lord Mayor, Councillor Carole McCulloch, and Leader of the Council, Councillor David Mellen, were joined by Shearer West, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Nottingham, and Ross Middleton from Huntingdon Academy, plus representatives from faith communities, who led a minute’s silence at 6pm from the steps of the Council House.
People were also asked to join from home by lighting a candle in their window or doorstep.
The flag on Nottingham’s Council House has been lowered to half-mast since Tuesday and a book of condolence opened as the city mourns the tragic loss of life following this devastating incident.
In a speech outside the Council House, Councillor David Mellen, Leader of Nottingham City Council, said: “We stand shoulder to shoulder as we respond to the shocking violence witnessed in our streets this week.
“We stand with the families and friends of two of our students, Grace and Barnaby, who’ve had their lives cut short at a time when they should have been celebrating the completion of their first year of studies at Nottingham University; and also with the family and colleagues of one of our public servants, Ian, who has also lost his life after many years of serving several schools in our city as their site manager.
“We also stand with those who were injured in the city centre early on Tuesday morning who are being treated in hospital and with those who are caring for them.
“I want to thank the people of Nottingham for your support and solidarity this week. From those who early on Tuesday morning, didn’t cross the road, didn’t avoid the situation, but ran to the support of those who had been so shockingly mown down, tending to their needs; and to those who have offered support and comfort or those who have cared and shared the grief of our communities this week, I thank you.
“As Grace’s father said so movingly yesterday, we all need to look out for each other and look after each other at this time. Nottingham is a great city and a city where the events that we have seen this week shock us because they are so unusual.
“We have a city that is safe and welcoming, where people can go about their business without fear on a day-to-day basis. We must notallow fear to grip our streets and be the dominant emotion here.
“Thank you, Nottingham, for coming together this evening – let’s continue to care for each other in the days to come.”
Professor Shearer West, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nottingham, said: “It is hard to find the words to express the shock and grief felt at the senseless loss of life we have experienced this week, but against this backdrop of the deepest sadness, we can draw comfort from the thousands of messages of support that our city has received locally, nationally, and indeed globally in response to this dreadful crime.
“The people of Nottingham know that this is not what our city is about, and we will not let this one random act of violence define who we are and what we stand for. Today, our communities are united in grief but will draw upon the enormous strength of our citizens and their pride in their city as we come together to recover and heal.”
Nottingham Together, a group of local community and faith leaders formed in 2017 to tackle prejudice, said in a statement: “Our hearts are heavy with the weight of the tragic events that have unfolded in our beloved city of Nottingham. Our diverse and vibrant community has been shaken, and we stand united in our shared pain and sorrow.
“As faith and community leaders, we come together in solidarity to express our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends who have lost their loved ones. We cannot fathom the depth of your sorrow, but we offer our unwavering support, prayers, and love during this unimaginably difficult time. Please know that you are not alone; the entire community stands with you.
“We mourn the loss of three lives, extinguished too soon, but in the face of this tragedy, we must not allow hatred and division to define us. We reject any attempts to sow seeds of discord and animosity among us. Violence has no place in our communities.
“Instead, we choose love, compassion and understanding as our guiding principles. Nottingham will come together as one, to support and comfort those who have been affected and to prevent such senseless acts of violence from tearing apart our city.”